Probate, Trust & Estate Administration

Probate Attorneys Who Administer Estates With Sensitivity & Efficiency

Probate Legal Fees That Are Fair & Reasonable

     Since 1993 0ur Estate & Trust Administration Attorneys Provide Probate, Estate Administration and Trust Administration Services to Clients Who Reside Throughout Greater Pittsburgh, Beaver Valley and the Surrounding Counties with Offices Conveniently Located in Sewickley/Franklin Park and Beaver.

     What is Probate/Estate Administration?

      When a family member, friend, or lifetime partner dies WITH A WILL it is necessary to do what their Will directs. Some bank accounts and real estate owned at death and governed by a Will are known as Probate Assets.  Probate assets cannot be used to pay expenses or distributed to beneficiaries until the Court appoints an Executor or Administrator. The legal process to have a Will filed with the Court and an Executor or Administrator appointed is known as Probate or Estate Administration. This legal process involves requirements governed by a Pennsylvania Statute known as the Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code. This law and other requirements of Estate Administration include the filing of a Petition with the Will, Court appointment of an Executor or Administrator, notices to beneficiaries, legal advertising, an Inventory of assets, payment of debts and taxes, payment of Inheritance Tax and the filing of an Inheritance Tax Return, status reports, and in some Estates the filing of a formal Accounting.  Our attorneys provide personal, sensitive representation in the probate and estate administration process. They take pride in being available throughout the process and are prepared to deal with all issues as they arise. 

     When a family member, friend, or lifetime partner dies WITHOUT A WILL Court appointment of an Administrator is often necessary to pay debts and expenses and to distribute money and real estate to beneficiaries. Dying without a Will is called Intestacy. When a resident of Pennsylvania dies without a Will a law governs who has the authority to open and handle the Estate Administration. The beneficiaries of a person who dies without a Will are also determined by a Pennsylvania law. The legal requirements to administer an Estate for a person who does not have a Will include the same filings and procedures necessary to handle an Estate for a person who has a Will. 

 

     Our Probate/Estate Administration Legal Services:

     Attorneys Jay West and Ann Zuberbuhler West have decades of experience representing families and loved ones when a parent, spouse, or friend dies and Probate/Estate Administration is necessary. Their approach is with sensitivity and kindness to clients experiencing the circumstances surrounding death. When conflict or difficult personal dynamics occur among family members or other beneficiaries their focus shifts to creative and appropriate solutions first. When Court involvement is necessary, their decades of experience in hearings and trials are used to efficiently, and when necessary aggressively litigate the issues to conclusion. Our Estate Administration legal services in this area of practice include:   

  • Probate of Will and Appointment of an Executor
  • Court Appointment of an Administrator When No Will
  • Filing of all Necessary Documents and Notices with the Court
  • Legal Advice as to Payment of Debts and Expenses
  • The Preparation and Filing of Inheritance Tax Returns
  • Coordination with CPAs to File Income Tax Returns
  • Work With Financial Advisors When Investments in Estate
  • Efficient Distribution of Assets to Beneficiaries
  • Will and Estate Contests – Hearings & Trials when Necessary
  • Disputes Among Heirs and Beneficiaries
  • Allegations of Undue Influence and Incompetency/Incapacity
  • Disagreements over the Distribution of Money and Real Estate
  • Disputes Over House Contents and Personal Property

  Is Trust Administration Needed?

     Many individuals have Estate Plans that include Revocable Trusts. They are also known as Revocable Living Trusts. These Trusts are Estate Planning tools used to avoid the Probate process and for other reasons including confidentiality. Revocable Trusts can simplify administration of assets at death. When individuals with Revocable Trusts die, their Trusts become Irrevocable. Like a Will, Revocable Trusts direct the payment of debts, taxes and expenses and the distribution of money and real estate at death. There is important work to perform when the owner of a Revocable Trust dies.

  • Trustees Responsible for Revocable Trusts at the Trust Creator’s Death Do what is directed by the Trust and required by law.
  • The PA Uniform Trust Act applies to Revocable Trusts both prior to and after death. T
  • The PA Uniform Trust Act his law has procedures similar to Probate & Estate Administration. 
  • Procedures under the Uniform Trust Act are required for Trustees to avoid personal responsibility and liability for payment of trust debts, expenses, and taxes after the death of the Trust creator. 
  • Trustees who comply with the Uniform Trust Act distribute Trust assets with knowledge that personal responsibility and potential liability can be avoided. 
  • Inheritance Tax Returns and Income Tax Returns are required after death even when Revocable Trusts are used. 
  • Successor Trustees must fulfill the directions of the Trust. 
  • Trust Administration Can be Completed with a Trust Settlement Agreement.

     If your family has a Revocable Trust we recommend you seek the legal advice of our attorneys when the creator of the Trust dies to ensure all actions taken by the Successor Trustee are well informed and done according to Pennsylvania Law.   

     Legal Fees in Estate Administration:

      Our Approach to Legal Fees:  Our attorneys want all clients to be satisfied with both the quality of our legal services and the reasonableness of the fees we charge for those services. As a result the majority of our Probate and Estate Administration work is done by our attorneys at a flat rate that is explained and agreed upon at our initial free consultation. The flat rates we charge are based upon our experience performing the work, the relative complexity of the issues and circumstances, and the time that we anticipate it will take to complete it. The majority of our clients prefer this to an hourly fee approach. It is our primary goal when determining a fee for any legal work that it be both fair and reasonable. It is our experience discussing fees with new clients that they are pleased with the fairness of our fees in comparison to those quoted by other attorneys and law firms. 

  • We DO NOT use a graduated percentage of assets formula to determine legal fees for Estates.
  • We DO NOT use a flat percent of total assets method to determine legal fees for Estates. 
  • Legal fees based up percentages of Estate assets often result in legal fees that are unreasonable and excessive. 
  • We are committed to perform all legal work at rates and fees that are both fair and reasonable. 

     If a Loved One Has Died Make an Appointment for Probate & Estate Administration Legal Services.

     Since 1993 West & Zuberbuhler P.C.’s attorneys have provided a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION to all families and friends following the death of a loved one. At the initial meeting we discuss the legal consequences of death and the Estate Administration process. And we work with surviving family and friends to determine the scope of legal work that is necessary as a result of the death of a spouse, family member, or friend. We invite you to contact us to schedule an in-person or virtual appointment to meet our Attorneys. 

     The Attorneys at West & Zuberbuhler, P.C. provide Probate and Estate Administration legal services to clients who reside throughout Greater Pittsburgh and its surrounding Counties and in the Beaver Valley. As a result of our convenient office locations we represent clients and their families who reside in Pittsburgh, Sewickley, Sewickley Heights, Franklin Park, Wexford, Cranberry Township, and throughout the I-79 and Route 376 corridors from Washington to Mercer, and Pittsburgh to New Wilmington.

Zip codes Served: 16066, 15042, 15005, 16046, 15143, 15090, 15101, 15044, 16059, 15050,15066, 16063, 16033, 16059, 15237, 15229<